Taking a Strengths-Based Approach to Address Discrimination Experiences in a Clinical Context

  • Jeff KlibertEmail author
  • Brianna Allen


This chapter outlines how positive psychological practices can enhance cultural competence in a clinical context. Specifically, the chapter aims to highlight how positive psychological assessments and interventions help clients offset the effects of discrimination in building a culturally informed sense of resilience and well-being. Few traditional forms of treatment offer guidelines to help clinicians acknowledge and address discrimination experiences in a manner honoring a client’s worldview, incorporating a client’s healing traditions, and restoring a client’s sense of cultural dignity. If left unaddressed or inadequately addressed, discrimination experiences may serve as a significant barrier to the therapeutic process. Given the importance of strength-building as a mechanism to encourage and maintain cultural competence, this chapter will offer a set of guidelines, informed by empirically supported positive psychological practices, to appropriately acknowledge and address discrimination experiences in treatment. Initially, we focus on defining multicultural competence with special attention to efforts aimed at reducing the effects of discrimination within a sociocultural framework. Next, we consider different positive psychological practices and how they promote strength and resilience in the face of cultural stressors. In particular, we will focus on positive psychological assessments and how they can be used early in the treatment process to set a foundation for culturally informed strength. We will supplement this discussion by highlighting how narrative and storytelling interventions empower clients to capitalize on their strengths to face cultural stress. Finally, the chapter concludes with a call to action; we encourage mental health professionals to approach challenging discrimination experiences with a mind toward sensitive, holistic, and transformative practices. Overall, the chapter offers a strength-based process whereby clinicians can demonstrate greater multicultural competence in working with the unique identities, needs, and values of their clients.


Multicultural competence Discrimination Positive psychological assessment and intervention 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georgia Southern UniversityStatesboroUSA

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